Friday, November 18, 2011

Native Plant of the Week: Poke Milkweed ~ Asclepias exaltata

Poke Milkweed ~ Asclepias exaltata


If you have a more shaded landscape and would like to introduce some Milkweed, Poke Milkweed is an excellent option. A beautiful white flowering milkweed, it's common in mesic woodlands and woodland edges in part shade.

The flowers clusters are erect before opening, then droop downwards upon opening in mid June. A very attractive and tall milkweed (reaching heights up to 5 feet), with large opposite leaves.

This seems to be one of the preferred milkweeds of the Large Milkweed Bug (Oncopeltus fasciatus). I saw several patiently waiting for the milkweed to flower and set seed where it will lay its eggs. The Milkweed Leaf Beetle (Labidomera clivicollis) also likes to feed on the leaves, and Monarch Butterfly caterpillars.

This medium sized perennial would make a great addition to any partially shaded landscape. The foliage remains attractive throughout the summer months and into seed pod development.

Poke Milkweed is native to eastern North America. See map below for range.

Kartesz, J.T., The Biota of North America Program (BONAP).
2011. 
North American Plant Atlas. Chapel Hill, N.C.